In the aftermath of the BP oil spill, searches for "oil spill" on major search engines were dominated by law firms’ sponsored listings, reports ClickZ. Truly standout firms took the spill as an opportunity to create content on their websites that not only caught the clicks, but continues to hold the interest of those searching for information on the disaster.

Alabama-based law firm Beasley Allen, for example, has created an entire focus on the BP oil spill within its website. One of the site’s main frames features an image from the spill with the compelling caption, "The Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History."

The firm also includes "Featured News" and "Legal Headlines" on its main page that position the company as an online hub for information about the spill. Notably, their informative content has captured the interests of businesses and property owners seeking damages – one of their current "Breaking News" headlines explains that the firm will be representing a Gulf Coast real estate management company in a case against BP.

Ironically, Beasley Allen and BP are using a similar strategy – the oil company appears to also be using paid searches for reputation management in light of the recent disaster. At press time, searches for "oil spill" on Yahoo, Bing and Google all show a link to BP‘s website as the first paid result. Clicking the link brings browsers to a page with news updates about BP’s response as well as live video footage.

This strategy offers an effective model for marketers, demonstrating that paid searches can be used to profile and respond quickly to breaking news events. Paid searches combined with informative and educational content about current events can engage audiences, position a brand as a leading voice and drive organic SEO.